Our favorite smartphones at CES 2012

The Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone. Though there were few revolutionary new products at the show this year, in the smartphone space, we saw a number of promising new devices, many from companies that haven’t been performing well in the United States in recent years, including Nokia and Sony. Huawei and Fujitsu also had impressive showings, but overall, Windows Phone may be the winner at CES 2012. While it still has a tiny market share here in the US, Windows Phone devices held their own, right up there with Android. 

Nokia Lumia 900


It may be an improved version of the Lumia 800, but Nokia came out strong at CES with the Lumia 900. The Finnish manufacturer’s second US Windows Phone will be released on AT&T in the near future and run on the carrier’s newly launched 4G LTE network. Better, Nokia has upped the screen size to a cool 4.3 inches, and has a number of new apps in the pipeline, including a new app that lets you use augmented reality, in conjunction with your phone’s camera, to find nearby restaurants and places. Combin that with actual turn-by-turn navigation thanks to Nokia owning Navteq and it may be difficult to resist giving Windows Phone a try. 

Read our full hands-on impressions

Check out our full review of the Nokia Lumia 900.

Motorola Droid 4

Motorola Droid 4 - CES 2012

Like Nokia, Motorola has been learning from its mistakes. The Droid 3 was a good phone when it came out this past summer, but releasing a 3G phone as Verizon was pushing its 4G LTE network was a mistake. Those who wanted a keyboard, but didn’t want to be stuck with 3G for two more years, were left in a bind. Well, no more. Motorola let me play around with the LTE-enabled Droid 4 at CES and it made me miss my years with a full QWERTY keyboard. The Droid 4 has what might be the best looking QWERTY on any phone right now, complete with five rows of keys (yes, a number row) that are each individually backlit. The only downside is, as usual, Motorola’s somewhat bland blue and grey Android interface. (The camera is also likely a downer, though I didn’t get to test the camera, so I’m only assuming based on older models). Still, for a great slide-out keyboard, I’d sacrifice a bit of interface. 

Read our full hands-on impressions

Check out our full review of the Motorola Droid 4.

Huawei super-thin ICS phones

Huawei Ascend P1 S CES 2012

Huawei doesn’t yet have much of a foothold here in the United States, with the exception of a deal with Cricket (and maybe some other carriers), but its lineup has improved so dramatically from last year that I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some of its phones creep into the market in 2012. At CES, Huawei showed off the Ascend P1 S, the “world’s thinnest phone,” complete with an unmodified, very pretty version of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). None of the major manufacturers showed off devices with ICS, likely because it’s so new, but Huawei proved it can move fast. The phones ran quite well with Google’s new OS. I don’t know a whole lot about Huawei yet, but I expect that I’ll have to brush up.

Read about Huawei’s Ascend P1 S

LG Spectrum

LG Spectrum 4G LTE phone for Verizon - CES 2012

You have to give LG props. Even though Super AMOLED screens are clearly dominating the market, and are a hit with consumers, LG went out of its way at CES to prove why AMOLED is inferior to LCD IPS displays, which have been around for a long time. In many ways, the argument is valid. Though AMOLED produces more vivid colors and much deeper blacks, LCD can produce more accurate images. The LG Spectrum is proudly named for its HD LCD screen. This dual-core phone runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE network and really isn’t the most fabulous smartphone at the ball, but it’s $200 launch price point is nice, and should make it one of the most attractive devices available on Verizon for less than $300. 

Read our full hands-on impressions

Sony Xperia Ion

Sony Xperia Ion

Sony is no longer tethered to Ericsson. Though the Xperia Ion actually had some display units at the show with Sony Ericsson logos, representatives assured me that it will only bear the Sony name. This brand change should give Sony a chance to reboot its smartphone lineup here in the US. The Xperia Ion doesn’t revolutionize the smartphone, but Sony’s implementation of Android is pleasant to look at and the phone itself is quite thin. Sony has even stolen a good feature from Windows Phone. You can hold down the camera button even if the phone is on standby and the phone will snap a picture. We’re not fond of the fact that it always instantly snaps a picture instead of just opening the camera app, but something is better than nothing. We’d be happy to see Sony start competing in the US better. Hopefully, this will be one of the first devices to reach beyond AT&T. 

Check out our full review of the Sony Xperia Ion

Check out our picture gallery

HTC Titan II

HTC Titan II Windows Phone

HTC didn’t invest in a giant booth at CES this year, but it did announce a new Windows Phone. The Titan II is the sequel to the just-released Titan and will be another choice for AT&T users looking at Windows Phone in the coming months. It improves on the basic look and design of the Titan, bumps up the camera to an amazing 16MP resolution, and has 4G LTE connectivity. Couple that with the huge 4.7-inch screen and you have a great phone that pushes the limits in a number of ways. 

Read our full hands-on impressions

Fujitsu Toshiba IS12T

Fujitsu Toshiba IS12t Japanese Windows Phone - front

This device will likely never hit shelves in the United States, but I wish some US manufacturers (and wireless carriers) would have the guts to release devices that had a bit of color. This Fujitsu and Toshiba collaboration has a 12-megapixel camera and an impressively thin feel. It doesn’t push the boundaries on specs or reinvent Windows Phone, but it would make a great option and seems to be the perfect colors for a Sprint phone.

Check out our picture gallery

Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung Galaxy Note - Apps screen

The Galaxy Note is not my favorite phone at CES. Far from it. But it is something new, and that’s worth something. With the Galaxy Note, Samsung has pushed the limits to how large a smartphone can be, with a huge 5.3-inch screen. The phone is so much like a tablet that it comes with its own stylus and a screen cover. During my 15-30 minutes with the device, I just didn’t find the huge size to be worth the hassle of having a phone that you can hardly hold or fit in your pocket. Many of you came to the Note’s defense though, and I look forward to writing a full review when the device hits AT&T shelves sometime in the next few months. 

Check out our full Samsung Galaxy Note review.

Read our full hands-on impressions

Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.

Does this video show off the Huawei P30 Pro's impressive camera suite?

The Huawei P30 Pro will be announced on March 26. It has already started to leak ahead of this date, and expectations are high that the company will improve even further on the P20 Pro's camera.

Rooting your Android device is risky. Do it right with our handy guide

Wondering whether to root your Android smartphone or stick with stock Android? Perhaps you’ve decided to do it and you just need to know how? Here, you'll find an explanation and a quick guide on how to root Android devices.

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks for the best portable chargers.

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G might be a few short weeks away from launch

Samsung has announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show as it's among the first 5G-ready smartphones to hit the market.

Fossil made a smartwatch in 2004, and it’s part of a new brand retrospective

Fossil has been making watches for 35 years, and to celebrate the anniversary, it has a new retrospective exhibit complete with the first smartwatch it made — the Wrist Net watch from 2004.

Fossil is working on a smartwatch with BMW, and it’s coming next year

Fossil, the watch company that makes smartwatches under its own name and partners with other major brands too, intends to launch a smartwatch with car manufacturer BMW in the future.

Diesel’s denim-inspired smartwatch straps are a casual, colorful must-own

Diesel will release two new versions of the On Full Guard 2.5 smartwatch later this year, with seriously cool, denim-inspired straps in classic Diesel colors. We tried them on at the Baselworld 2019 show.

The Moto G7 Power, with its massive battery, is now available for purchase

After a number of leaks and rumors, the Motorola Moto G7, Moto G7 Play, and Moto G7 Power are finally here. The devices represent quite a spec bump over the previous-generation Moto G6 phones, yet still come at a reasonable price.

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

We're glad to see that USB-C is quickly becoming the norm. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone. We've got USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A.

5G's arrival is transforming tech. Here's everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

HMD Global admits Nokia 7 Plus handsets sent user data to China

Nokia could be in some hot water. According to recent reports, Nokia 7 models may be secretly sending data to China without the user knowing about it. Nokia says that the issue was a software bug and that it has been fixed.

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.